Sikhs seek cremation grounds in Afghanistan

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Taking serious note of news reports about prevention of cremation of a Sikh in Afghanistan, Tarlochan Singh, MP and former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, has asked the Centre to take up the issue with the Afghan government.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, he has asked the government to intervene and impress upon the Afghan authorities to respect the age-old religious freedom enjoyed by the Sikhs and allot small grounds near the gurdwaras as it was difficult for the Sikhs to go to a distant place because of security reasons.

The Sikhs also need facilities such as funeral vans at these places which the Indian embassy should provide out of the grants given to Afghanistan.

Mr. Singh said cremation was a major problem being faced by Hindus and Sikhs in most of the West Asian countries.

Mr. Singh said a large number of Sikhs migrated because of the largescale violence but a few thousands were still living in Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad.

The cremation of the dead had become a problem in these cities because the original cremation grounds had been occupied by unauthorised persons, the letter said. Some had even built houses on the lands.

“I understand that people living around there raise objections and they forcibly stop the people from performing cremation as per the Sikh rites,” Mr. Singh said.

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